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Acting Like A Woman

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Producing Theater
Forum Name: Acting
Forum Discription: Q&A about auditions, character development and other aspects of the craft
Printed Date: 6/18/24 at 6:36pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 8.05 -

Topic: Acting Like A Woman
Posted By: juliemshaw
Subject: Acting Like A Woman
Date Posted: 4/09/12 at 9:47pm
I am directing SYLVIA and need to help my actor play "Phyllis". What are some good clues and points to help him play a female without becoming a drag stereotype?

Julie Michelle

Posted By: edh915
Date Posted: 4/10/12 at 11:59am
As soon as he tries to "act" like a woman he'll resort to just the stereotypes that you're trying to avoid.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but don't try to have him act like a woman at all. Get him into a skirt and holding a handbag (always), and then try to get him to channel a female teacher, aunt, neighbor, church lady - someone in his life whom he knows who fits the character he's playing.

He needs to imitate the person - not the sex of the person. Wearing a costume will help give him give those necessary moves, but it's character that needs to be developed. Work at it from that end, and it should come around okay. At least, it worked for me in a similar situation.

Posted By: TonyDi
Date Posted: 4/11/12 at 6:58am
Oddly when we did that show - all the characters, the guy in the dog park, Phyllis, the non-descript gender psychiatrist were all played by a girl.  However she was an awesome actress and could pull off the comedy quite well - the guy in the dogpark, we put a moustache on her, jeans, boots, hunting shirt, cap and she was hilarious.  Phyllis was nicely dressed, very classy type, the doctor we had VERY generic looking and I even think the actress who did that role wrappped and bound her chest to flatten it and make it look very non-gender-specific, like PAT the androgynous character on Sat. Nite Live... and it was just plain funny.  But your issue is different since you're going the other way.  As Ed said, go without TRYING to use all the stereotypical feminine things and let the costume and makeup (if you're going that far) dictate.  Hey it could be a relatively masculine female - although Phyllis is sort of a priss as I recall, didn't like the dog jumping on her and so forth - kind of too classy for a dog unless it were a Russian Wolfhound or something classy like that ya know!!??
Anyway good luck with it.  Great fun show.  Bit rough on the language by the dog especially in the cat chasing scene but you know I've said this before - our Sylvia - was right at the edge of the stage - a foot from the front row audience of old lady Sunday types - and they were laughing their old butts off - it was just funny.  Didn't seem to bother our audiences ever - or at least no-one ever said anything negative about the language.

"Almost famous"

Posted By: juliemshaw
Date Posted: 4/12/12 at 12:02pm
Thank you both. The actor we have in this multiple role is fairly new to stage, but has lots of potential. This will help.

I agree about the language. I did a production of this play a few years back, and that scene always got huge laughs. I think it's because it's played for the humor and not malicious. I mean, we all KNOW that's how dogs feel about cats - right?

Julie Michelle

Posted By: Majicwrench
Date Posted: 4/12/12 at 12:26pm

 Played a woman once years ago, took awhile to get into it but then was GREAT fun. Just got in the habit of watching manerisms etc.

 Hope show goes well. I saw this done a few years ago by a new group and was disappointed. Break a leg

Posted By: pdavis69
Date Posted: 4/13/12 at 2:27pm
I played a woman in Queens of Bingo.  The biggest problem I had was not sitting like a truck driver.

Patrick L. Davis
Fort Findlay Playhouse

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